Books for your Christmas wish list

A couple of books have caught my eye during the year and have naturally made their way into my Christmas wish list (and some I’ve already ordered myself). Please let me know if there are books you belive should be on this list that I have missed.

Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking
by Simon Quellen Field
288 pages

The back cover states “When you’re cooking, you’re a chemist!”. I couldn’t agree more and figured this was a book for me. I already have my copy in front of me and see there are many interesting observations and experiments described.

Heston Blumenthal at Home
by Heston Blumenthal
408 pages

The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria
by Ferran Adrií 
384 pages

Ferran and Heston have jumped onto the cooking-at-home-with-great-chefs waggon. They’d be more than welcome to come and cook in my kitchen, but until that happens I’ll let their books inspire me. An important thing about these books is that, given their close collaboration with scientists, I have a high expectation that the advice given in all recipes should be scientifically sound (which of course is not the case for many other cook books).

Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters
by Gordon M. Shepherd
288 pages

I stumbled across this one by chance. It looks like a “must have” too me, and my copy is already on its way. In an interview with Salon, the author Gordon M. Shepherd, a professor of neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, says that:
“I began to realize that increasingly smell was for sensing the flavor of food. It goes almost unrecognized as we eat our food because we think it all comes from taste in our mouths. The more research that I did on flavor, the more I realized that the sense of smell was the dominant sense in flavor – and that we are almost totally unaware of it.”

The Oxford Companion to Beer
edited by Garrett Oliver
960 pages

Having ventured into brewing I found this book quite irresistable!

The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking
edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink and Erik van der Linden
336 pages

I’ve mentioned this book previously. With 35 essays covering a range of topics this should be of interest to many Khymos readers!

Apart from these books we just have to face it: there’s no way around Modernist cuisine. If you don’t own a copy yet I’m quite sure it still sits there on the top of your wish list. And – if you happen to read Swedish – I would highly recommend the recently published book Matmolekyler (“Food molecules”) by Malin Sandström and Lisa Förare Winbladh (also check out their blog blog with the same name – also in Swedish).


  1. Oh, I’ve got three of them already! I picked up a copy of Culinary Reactions in the US a month ago, haven’t read it yet but as you say it looks promising. And I can highly recommend the book by Gordon Shepherd for several reasons – he is a very distinguished scientist in neuroscience and olfaction (the sense of smell) with an amazing knowledge of the field, he writes well in general, plus I read the first 1.5 chapters of this book and liked them a lot.
    Plus Matmolekyler, which perhaps doesn’t count since I am one of its authors… 😉

    The kitchen as laboratory sounds interesting. I’ve got to get a copy of that once I manage to diminish my to-read-pile a little.

  2. Very pleased with the H Blumenthal at home. Some recipes are downsized versions of his Fat duck cookbook. But all recipes can be made at home, and yes it is with a scientific explication. I do recommend it.

    Francois Chartier (Canada – French) his books are now translated in English.
    He worked with Ferran Adria and Joan Roca on the foodpairing theme between wine and food. I bought them in the french language. Theme: foodpairing

    Currently I’m reading the book: “your brain on food, how chemicals control your toughts and feelings”. Very interesting. A higly scientific approach. I will plunge into other aspect as well in the future. So thanks for your tip on “neurogastronomy”

    Also looking forward to
    Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking
    Andoni Luis Adoriz (2012)

  3. The Family Meal; this is not all about gastronomy. It consists of 31 three course meals which El Bulli cooks and serves(d) to its own staff before the guests arrive. Well illustrated with step by step instructions for each course, the vast majority use only larder ingredients. In addition it gives timelines (when to carry out steps in minutes before service) and lists of ingredients for a variety of numbers of diners ( from 2 to 75). Many books are rehashes of others; this is very different and highly recommended for the beginner as well as the tyro.

    You omit COCO which is principally menus and recipes from 100 rated chefs from all over the world. The dishes cover the entire gamut from Chinese through Indian, French to everything else. In addition 10 top chefs give their take on ten classic dishes like Ramsay’s Ravioli of Lobster and Adria’s Textured Vegetable Panachés (all seven of them!). A little heavy for the beginner, I doubt if the average home cook would use even half of the menus.

    Unlike most books which give cooking instructions both of these show the suggested presentation whilst Ferran Adria’s book also makes suggestions for variations on the dishes and menus

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